Archive for the ‘Redwood Valley’ Category

Graziano/St. Gregory/Monte Volpe/Enotria – 116

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

Sign_3Greg Graziano is a very, very busy man. Having inherited vineyards that were planted by his grandfather in 1918, he has successfully established FOUR different labels under which he produces an astounding 30 to 40 different wines (I truly never could get an exact number, so this is a guess).

Graziano_bottlesThe Saint Gregory label is the first one that was established. Under this label are wines of the Burgundian ilk. Monte Volpe means "fox mountain" and this brand is for the development of Tuscan red varietals and whites from Friuli. Enotria is Greek for "land of wine" and was developed to promote Piemonte varietals. Lastly, under the Graziano label, are the classic Mendocino varietals; Zinfandels and Petite Sirahs.

Graziano_tasting_roomI was extremely fortunate that it was a quiet morning during my visit and the lovely lady behind the counter was patient with me as I tried through all the labels and all the wines. I was doubly more fortunate that instead of working through one label at a time, and possibly forcing me to jump to-and-from whites and reds, she laid them out in the order in which they should be tasted. My suggestion is to really only pick a few and not attempt to go through the twenty+ that I did…

Enotria Arneis, Mendocino; Uvaggio Isabella – Enotria is Greek for "Land of Many Grapes" and Arneis is a very unusual varietal with a Piedmont heritage. Pale yellow color with decidedly delightful green apple and pear aromas. Very crisp entry that brightens into a tang in the mid-palate. Long finish with pale herbs and bright fruit. $12.00

Monte Volpe Tocai Friulan, Mendocino – Grapefruit, ripe lemon, and sweet floral tones in the nose. Not overwhelming, but well-integrated. While there was a sweetness in the bouquet, the entry was an engaging spicy crispness. There was a hint of sweetness in the center, but a long, supple finish balances out. $10.00

2002 Monte Volpe Primo Bianco, Mendocino – A blend of Arneis, Tocai, Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay grapes. Clean lemon peel and faint tropical notes in the nose. Clean and easy with a brightness of peach and a slightly creamy finish. $10.00

Graziano Rose of Carignane – Intensely delightful aroma of sweet red apples and strawberries. Great acidity and long, structured finish. Too much fun! $12.00

2002 St. Gregory Pinot Noir, Potter Valley – Brownish tinge around a bricky orange/red tone. Warm strawberry and earthy dark fruit aromas. Surprisingly sweet tones in its core with a balanced, even finish that is engaging. $16.00

2002 St. Gregory Pinot Noir, Mendocino – Slightly oxidized with a hint of hospital smell. Thin red fruit with a metallic finish. $16.00

2002 St. Gregory Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Romani Vineyards – A more bretty example of Pinot with dusty, dried twigs in front of mature strawberry flavors. $22.00

2001 Monte Volpe Sangiovese, Mendocino – Decidedly cinnamon tones along with the bright, acidic fruit. Easy and relatively simply. $16.00 Note: This wine was tasted blind along side the following — I was only told that one was bio-dynamic and one was not. Seemed I preferred the bio-dynamic Sangiovese:

2001 Monte Volpe Sangiovese, Bio-Dynamic, Fox Creek Vineyard – Rustic and spicy in structure with an engaging hint of a spicy, candied apple. Tangy entry with some dried floral notes just hidden, but more engaging.

2001 Monte Volpe Primo Rosso – A blend of Barbera, Zinfandel, and Dolcetto. Dark, dusty spice with dried floral qualities. Sweet-like mouth entry of bing cherry and blackberry with a rich, dark spicy mid-palate and dark, floral finish. No price available.

2000 Enotria Dolcetto, Mendocino - "Zinfandel in Merlot’s clothing" was the description given to us by our pourer. Also known as "the little sweet one" because it is so easy to grow. A tease of spice behind the berry fruit. Balance acidity and very easy, fruity wine. Some hints of earth and vanilla on the finish. $14.00

2001 Enotria Barbera – Rustic with dark, dusty spice. Very engaging upon entry with dark cherry and dried lavender and heather in the core. 14.00

2002 Graziano Zinfandel, Potter Valley, Kazmet Vineyards – Dusty cocoa tones with a hint of eucalyptus. Heightened tannic entry of jammy fruit. A tad metallic in the mid-palate with a dry, peppery finish. $24.00

2002 Graziano Zinfandel, Robert Parker Ranch – Spicy dark fruit with ample brambleberry. Softer entry than the aromas portend. Spicy mid-palate and a juicy, full-bodied finish. $22.00

2002 Graziano Zinfandel, Mendocino – Surprisingly sweet nose with a sherry/port-like sweet entry. Liqueur-sweet berry that would make one think it was a late-harvest! $24.00

2004 Enotria Muscato – Engaging aromas of sweet green herbs, ripe pear, and fresh green apple. More green apple on the entry and mid-palate that is a bit sweeter than anticipated. A punctuated, acidic tang on the finish would make it a great cheese wine for dessert, served well-chilled. 12.00

Graziano Family of Wines ~ 13251 S. Highway 101, Ste. 3 ~ Hopland ~ CA ~ 95449 ~ 707-744-8466

Oracle Oaks Winery – 109

Friday, July 1st, 2005

SignWhile exploring the Mendocino wine region, the town of Hopland is an easy stop to experience a handful of small wineries who inhabit a quaint enclave of buildings along the main street. All within walking distance of three or four blocks, one will find seven wineries’ tasting rooms, a local brewery, and a restaurant or two. Oracle Oaks Winery is such a winery and being relatively new on the block, shares their pouring space with Cole Bailey.

It was Cole Bailey’s Bob Anderson who was manning the tasting room on the day of my visit and I failed to inquire sufficiently about Oracle Oaks’ history. All I know is they are an offshoot of the Lolonis Vineyards (a sibling? a son? I can’t recall). Their vineyards are, however, located in Redwood Valley so while the tasting room lies in the center of Sanel Valley, they are wholly and entirely wines from the Redwood Valley appellation. One of the characteristics of Redwood Valley is its remarkable change in temperature, where it can change twenty- to thirty-degrees from evening to mid-day. I also failed to acquire prices on the wines I tasted, but look forward to learning more about this new business for there are several wines showing considerable intrigue:

NV Wrestler Red – A blend that is mostly Zinfandel (exact blend unknown). Port/sherry-like aromas with a dusty entry suggests slight oxidation. Qualities of dark red cherry and floral qualities in aroma and taste.

2002 Oracle Oaks Zinfandel, Redwood Valley – Initial nose of dried flowers. Slightly extracted entry that shows flavors of heather and lavender integrated with bright red fruit. A dusty finish.

2002 Valgdiguie, Redwood Valley – This was the wine that most captured my imagination. Known as the Napa Gamay, this Rhone-style wine was very dark purple with maroon tinges at its edge. Perfumey with dried flowers, the sweetish entry produced a sensation of elegant French perfume in the aroma/flavor combination. The flavors blossomed to produce actual table grape flavors with a thin mid-palate and a huge, chewy finish.

2002 Syrah, Redwood Valley – Dark garnet in color, aromas of blackberry liqueur just barely hides a cocoa and coffee bouquet. Fascinating complexity in producing both jammy and dusty qualities — fruity up front with a dusty finish.

2002 Merlot, Redwood Valley – Flowery aromas of geraniums and dried heather. Dark plummy entry with a lingering, elegant spiced finish.

Oracle Oaks Winery ~ 13275 S. Highway 101 ~ Hopland ~ CA ~ 707-744-1230

Fife – 106

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Fife_signBlogging Fife Vineyards might prove an interesting exercise. It is not unusual for a winery to produce appellation-specific wines and many of the previously-blogged entries have demonstrated just that fact. Living here in Napa, I have attended a number of food and wine conferences where Karen MacNeil has presented. She is part owner of Fife along with husband, Dennis Fife, and Karen is the namesake for their Redhead Vineyard. It was in this misconception that I thought their Napa location was the one and only until I stumbled on their Mendocino tasting room.

Fife_bldgHaving gotten lost in Redwood Valley in Mendocino, I stumbled on Fife’s other location, pleased at the opportunity to taste a full line-up of the wines. I first experienced Fife Vineyards in a collective tasting room article I wrote for the Gang of Pour.
Theirs was a stand-out wine amongst a large tasting and I was just as
impressed with the wines tasted at this year’s Rhone Rangers.

Fife_tasting_roomThe tasting room in Mendocino is through a small garage opening and is quite innocuous as far as tastings room go; a simple counter, surrounded with wine cases and a display of Karen’s book, The Wine Bible. However, it is the view opposite the pouring counter that is so amazing; lake Mendocino lying serenely inviting in its shimmering blueness.

Fife_viewI feel a need to offer a small caveat on my tasting. On this visit to their Redwood Valley tasting room, I was the first visitor on a Sunday morning and as all the bottles were already open AND half-empty, I can only assume they had been opened the previous day. Much has been written about the various preservation techniques on open bottles, but I doubt any of those techniques were utilized in this case as the bulk of the wines I tasted seemed oxidized I know many of these wines (especially the Rhones) to be huge, jammy, spicy, and luscious. Lesson learned: Either visit in the middle of the day or request that fresh bottles be open (I did neither on this occasion, but hope to taste through their line-up again).

2002 Red Head Rosé – Extremely interesting to find a rosé made from a hundred percent Carignane! Clear bright pale cherry red in color and aromas. Crisp entry that is engaging and not overly sweet, with flavors of clean strawberry, cherry, and fresh red fruit. $12.00

2001 Redhead Red – An intriguing blend of Syrah, Charbono, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Barbera, Carignane, Zinfandel, and Nebiolo. Unfortunately, I believe this was the beginning of me tasting wines that had been opened for a day (or two?). Slightly cloudy and oxydized, dusty floral notes predominated with a hint of robust fruit that seemed faded. $12.00

2000 Carignane – Again, slightly cloudy with dusty floral aromas. Oxidized $18.50

2001 Zinfandel, Mendocino – Warm cherry with integrated spice. Not $17.00

2002 Zinfandel, Mendocino – Faint hint of hospital aromas. A cherry entry shows medium body with a tease of spice on the mid-palate. Even, tobacco finish. $17.00

2000 Cabernet, Spring Mountain, Napa – Green bell pepper on the nose and then dusty twigs – oxydized. $32.00

2001 Syrah, Mendocino – This visit: oxydized. $20.00

2000 Petite Sirah, Mendocino – This visit: dusty and oxydized. $20.00

Fife Vineyards ~ 3621 Ricetti Lane ~ Redwood Valley ~ CA ~ 95470 ~ 707-485-0323